Neil.C has asked me to post this here, it is the condensed and tidied version of a discussion that occurred on another forum and is is my personal contribution to the debate concerning which watch James Bond wears.
To get the easy stuff out of the way, here is a list of some of the watches he wears in the movies. This is not exhaustive but it does give the central Bond Watch of each film, unless some smartarse wants to prove to me that I am wrong.
Dr. No Rolex Submariner..1
From Russia With Love .Rolex Submariner..2
Goldfinger ..Rolex Submariner..3
You Only Live Twice .Rolex Submariner..4
Thunderball .Rolex Submariner..5 Brietling... 1
On Her Majesty's Secret Service .Rolex Submariner..6 Rolex Chronograph...1
Diamonds Are Forever No watch seen
The Man With the Golden Gun ...Rolex Submariner..8
Live & Let Die .Rolex Submariner..9 Pulsar ... 1
The Spy Who Loved Me ..Seiko ..1
For Your Eyes Only .Seiko..2
A View to a Kill Seiko..4
The Living Daylights Rolex Submariner..10
Licence to Kill ...Rolex Submariner..11
Goldeneye .Omega Seamaster Professional..1
Tomorrow Never Dies ..Omega Seamaster Professional..2
The World is Not Enough .Omega Seamaster Professional..3
Die Another Day ...Omega Seamaster Professional..4
Casino Royale .Omega Planet Ocean..1 Omeega Seamaster Professional..4
Quantum of Solace .Omega Planet Ocean..2
So, assuming I can count: that's eleven to Rolex, seven to Omega four to Seiko, one to Brietling and one to Pulsar. So, thats the films dealt with. That was easy. Sorry Omega fans, the fact is that Rolex is the cinematic Bond manufacture by eleven to seven. Now we know that Seiko and Omega have Bond watches for the simple reason that the companies in question paid Eon a vast sum of money to place their products on Bonds wrist. As the shift from the nasty Seiko quartz to the SeMP and then to the PO demonstrates nicely, Bonds wrist has become little more than a display mounting for whichever company will front up the dosh.
Don't get me wrong, I love my SeMP. I Just don't see the Bond connection as terribly real.
However, another fact is that Rolex have rather publicly not paid Eon or the Broccoli family a penny and yet one specific watch from their stable is the de facto Bond Watch: the Rolex Submariner. The Rolex Submariner is, without doubt, the default Bond watch. There is even a story that, when asked, Rolex declined to give Eon a Rolex to furnish Bonds wrist and that, on the set, Cubby Broccoli took off his own personal Rolex Submariner and offered it to Sean Connery. I have tried to find some confirmation of this story but it starts to look like an urban myth. However, the assumption for the first nine Bond films, before his wrist was hired out to the highest bidder, is that Bond wore as Submariner.
For the curious, these two links are pretty interesting:
So much for the films, what about the books?
Well this looks pretty simple too. There are a couple of mentions of Rolex scattered through the books, but the most detailed description of the watch that Bond wore comes chapters fifteen and sixteen of the 1963 classic: On Her Majestys Secret Service (OHMSS) Bonds watch is described as a:
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometer on an expanding metal bracelet. Bond then uses the watch in question as a knuckle duster, breaking the crystal and, immediately afterwards, is considering what to replace it with. As the quote goes:
"A Rolex? Probably. They were on the heavy side, but they work. And at least you could see the time in the dark with those big phosphorous numerals".
So, how many heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual Chronometers with big phosphorus numerals are there?
Well, On the face of it, one: the Rolex Submariner. This has been the received wisdom for as long as I can remember. However, I'm not sure the case is as open and shut as it seems...
Initially I had two problems:
one: the idea of a Submariner on an expanding bracelet seemed a bit odd. However, theres no accounting for taste. Especially from a man who habitually wore short sleeved shirts with a bow tie!
Two: the modern Submariner has either round spots of lume (or indices) but no big phosphorus numerals. For this reason, I initially thought that the Submariner could not be the watch Fleming described. However, as Neil.C pointed out to me, for the first four or five years, All Submariners sold in the UK came with three large luminous numerals at three, six and nine. In addition this apparently remained an optional extra until the nineteen seventies.
So here is an early example. This one doesnt say chronometer but slightly later ones did
As a result, it is pretty clear that when you get right down to it, there is really only one watch that fulfils all of those criteria: the early Rolex Submariner. So it looks like case closed.
However, before Neil pointed this out to me I had gone off on a very different track and one I have never seen mentioned before anywhere. There is one other watch that fulfils all of those criteria apart from the being on the heavy side one. The Rolex Explorer I.
Heres what an early one looks like:
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur ... n%26sa%3DN
The problem is that it is an undeniable fact that no one today would describe the Explorer as being on the heavy side. The Explorer started life at 34mm and has slowly evolved to being a mere 36mm today. However, reflecting upon this, I realised that we are not talking about todays tastes, we are talking about the tastes of people way back in 1962.
So, in 1962 would the Explorer I have appeared heavy? Well, lets just say tastes have changed a bit since the Second World War. The easiest way to demonstrate just how radically things have changed is through a gratuitous photograph, so here is:
This is a range of military and 'gentlemens' watches from 1939 to the present day. As you can see the trend is one of constant growth, layer by layer, from the smallest, a 29mm Girard Perregaux to a fairly chunky 39mm Poljot and beyond. By 1962 a complication free 34mm watch would be a large watch and, compared to the average, it would appear very chunky indeed. Of course, there will always be exceptions and, for example, specialist 'tool' watches such as the Submariner Divers watch or Speedmaster Chronograph would just have been considered stupidly large at the time.
(Some of the watches here are later homage models by the same maker: the Hamilton, O&W and 1-MWC and yes, the FL has had a vile redial)
Thus the fact that the Explorer, now at 36mm, looks gracile today does not detract from the fact that in 1962 at 34 or 35mm it would have been considered a large, even heavy, watch. I do not claim certainty. However, I think there is a good case for claiming that this puts the Explorer right back in the frame for being the original Bond watch. So now there are two suspects: the Explorer and the Submariner
There is another strand of supporting evidence. While the Submariner came on a variety of straps it did not come on an expanding metal strap. The Explorer did; the strap looked like this:
This may become quite important further down the page.
Then it struck me: Fleming modelled much of Bond's taste and wardrobe upon his own , He even had basically the same rank and back story as his character. He was famously rather vain and would have been conceited enough to imagine Bond as wearing the same watch as he did.
This got me wondering: what watch did Ian Fleming himself wear?
That's a real question with a real answer... and I found it!
Lets be clear, Fleming wore quite a few different watches, including, for example, what looks like an early forties (30 or 32mm) military Omega. However, sitting in the National Portrait Gallery in London there is a rather nice portrait of the man himself. It was painted, I have been informed, in 1962 as the cover picture for OHMSS.
In other words the watch in the picture is the watch that Fleming would have been wearing when he wrote the book and the watch he chose to wear for the publicity picture used on the cover of the book. Interesting
Here it is.
http://picasaweb.google.com/charlesvill ... 8949900418
And he's wearing a watch...
http://picasaweb.google.com/charlesvill ... 7647106866
Now, this isn't going to be any old watch. We already know that Fleming cared about watches. Well, when being painted for posterity, and the cover of his new book, He would be wearing his best. Wouldn't you?
That looks to me like an Explorer I...
Lets see, first things first: it is definitely not a Submariner unless the bezel has fallen off and it has shrunk! That's a 34mm watch or thereabouts, it's not on a standard fixoflex style expanding bracelet but it does look like its on a bracelet a whole lot like the Rolex expanding bracelet pictured above. What else? Well I think I see the give-away ball of 'Mercedes' hands and a mixture of numerals and markers.
There's no date and there is a bunch of writing in exactly the right place (for an Explorer) at the bottom. The writing at the top is missing, but I think that the artist would have missed it out as it would have undermined the hands and made the watch look too busy.
So, as a reminder, heres an explorer from the correct period:
and here is the modern version:
There simply isn't any other watch that combines the three luminous numbers, the Mercedes hands, the size, the bracelet, the writing in exactly the right place and a complete lack of the black numbered bezel found on the Sub. I think we have identified the very watch that Fleming wore:
The Rolex 'Explorer I' Oyster Perpetual Chronometer.
So, now we know what Fleming wore on the very cover of OHMSS and almost certainly wore while writing the book. However, is it the watch that he imagined onto the arm of his creation? Well, thats the question. Personally I think that now we have identified the watch that Fleming wore everything slips into place nicely.
Think about the psychology of the man. He imagined Bond into the clothes he wore, had him drink the drinks he liked, gave him a similar back story and identical rank. He even named one of the Bond books (Goldeneye) after his own house! It seems clear to me that James Bond was, to some degree, Ian Flemings alter ego and that Fleming, apparently a fairly vain man with refined tastes, would have wanted his creation, like himself, to have the very best of everything. Thus, I find it hard to believe that Bond's watch would be anything less than the very watch Fleming was wearing as he wrote OHMSS and chose to wear on the publicity pictures for that very book.
In other words, it is my contention that James Bond wore exactly the watch that his creator wore. Thus, if you want the original Bond Watch, as worn by Ian Fleming and thus, in an act of hubris, imagined onto the wrist of James Bond, you want a Rolex Explorer I on an original Rolex expanding metal bracelet.
Personally I think that, tongue in cheek, had the man had any patriotism at all he would have imagined Bond wearing a Smiths... Perhaps a nice Imperial or Astral. As the ascent of Everest showed, An English Gentleman would wear a Smiths in extremis. The Explorer, on the other hand, was quite sufficient to be worn by his sherpa!
or even the full Monty
Or at least a high quality homage... Eh Eddie?